Nathan Cleary’s 14 magical minutes secure Panthers’ place in NRL history

5 months ago
#nathancleary #s14 #magicalminutes #pantherssafer
With less than 20 minutes to go, we're facing a 24-8 lead, only for the honor of being the best away team to slip away. Unbelievable but seemingly inevitable. Penrith, perhaps the greatest rugby league team ever, would lose the 2023 NRL grand final. 62 minutes of football played on this sweltering evening had left the favorites in an almost unwinnable situation. Stephen Crichton and Spencer Leniu are playing their last match. There is talk of three forgotten peats. The end of an era was no longer threatening or beckoning. It looked like it had already arrived. But there is a legend in western Sydney. Coach Ivan's son is known as Nathan Cleary. The most influential player in the game. The human metronome of rugby league. Until that point, on the first day of October 2023, he remained just a legend. It was whispered by some. However, he was not at Accor Stadium. A stuttering first half passed with barely a fingerprint from number 7. The Panthers' stuttering attack was lackluster. Their only source of points? Oddly enough, Adam Reynolds dropped out. Cleary even missed the chance for transformation as a coach took long look at his knee. It was a tantalizing explanation for the captain's lack of influence. His fate changed even more after the half-time. Twice Cleary was gutted as the Broncos galloped away with the game. In the 52nd minute, Ezra Mam raced past a leaping effort to make the score 10. Reece Walsh's left-footed step then left him weak and prone on the fairway and Mam came back into play. It was 24-8 at this stage. Cleary described the aftermath of the game as "terrible". The fact that it was he - the great Nathan Cleary - who was at fault for two game-breaking tries made the Broncos' march somewhat appropriate. The revolution had come, and it had come for the king. Nathan Cleary and his Panthers teammates celebrate. Mark EvansAAP The clock showed 62 minutes and 44 seconds. It was at this moment that Cleary awoke from his sleep. A through ball floated down the right and sailed past Kurt Capewell to Moses Leota to make it 10. It was Cleary again who found Crichton, who dived deep into the Brisbane line and put three defenders through the try line. 11 minutes left, the difference is four. A 40-20 score two minutes later forced the Broncos back to their own line. With Reynolds down once again, Cleary stuck out his leg to trigger the penalty. More pressure, more Brisbane fatigue. A miraculous Cleary shot lands, but still no points. Test and prod No.7 is changing the world of rugby league. Then, with three minutes and 25 seconds remaining, the rise finally begins. He wanders left, a tired Broncos line shifts to the right, Cleary passes the Broncos' own leader Reynolds. Then we passed the coach's son, Billy Walters. We're past Jordan Riki, who embodies the work ethic of the Broncos' revival. Then the human exclamation from Walsh's outstretched arm. In a half-dozen strides, Cleary had destroyed e